Marcus - Comedian Uses Laughs to Tackle Misophonia

S3 E3 - 10/21/2020
In this episode, Adeel chats with Marcus, an Australian comedian who incorporates his experiences with misophonia into his stand-up routines. They discuss Marcus' discovery of misophonia, his use of humor as a coping mechanism, and how he openly discusses his condition to remove its stigma. Marcus shares examples from his life, including the frustrations of hearing people clip their nails in public and eating noises, which he also humorously incorporates into his comedy shows. Adeel and Marcus delve into the idea of using comedy to create awareness and foster community around misophonia, with Marcus revealing his plans to build an online community and possibly a retreat focusing on mental health and using humor to deal with misophonia. The concept of "Farm the Calm" is introduced as a handle for this initiative. Adeel appreciates the comedic perspective on misophonia, noting its rarity among discussions dominated by medical professionals or sufferers in distress.


Adeel [0:00]: Welcome to the Misophonia podcast. This is episode 3 of season 3. My name's Adeel Ma and I have Misophonia. This week I'm happy to bring a conversation with Marcus. Marcus is a comedian based in Australia and he travels around the world doing stand-up. We talk about incorporating Misophonia in his act. He's quite an advocate for Misophonia. And we talk about how he copes with traveling around the world and staying in new places where he can't always control his environment. I want to mention a little news this week. The 2020 Misophonia Research Grants from the Milken Institute's Misophonia Research Fund were just announced this week, and there are a bunch of exciting projects that are going to be funded. For example, at Duke University, Dr. Claire Robbins will conduct postdoctoral research to develop a treatment protocol based on methods targeting emotional disorders, including misophonia. At the University of Florida, Dr. Andres Keel will use multimodal imaging techniques to evaluate the interaction between auditory processing, emotion, and sensory perception in misophonia. At the University of Illinois, Dr. Fatima Hussain will study misophonia in the context of the audiological disorders such as tinnitus and hyperacusis. At the University of Mississippi, Dr. Laura Dixon will evaluate the physiological basis of misophonia. At the University of Nevada in Vegas, Dr. Aaron Hannon will examine whether misophonia is linked to differences in high-level auditory processing. And at the University of Sussex, Dr. Jamie Ward will test the hypothesis that atypical sensory sensitivity may underlie misophonia and predispose some people to develop misophonia. Congratulations to everyone who got a grant this year. Looking forward to great, great discoveries and hopefully treatments. and maybe a cure. All right, now here's my conversation with Marcus. If you'd like to also check out his work, his website is itsmarcusryan, I-T-S, Marcus Ryan. All the links will be in the show notes. His website has videos, all kinds of information about him, and hopefully tour dates once he's able to travel again post-COVID. All right, enjoy. Marcus, welcome to the podcast. I've really been looking forward to this, and I think this will be fun for everybody.

Marcus [2:30]: Yeah, thank you for having me on.

Adeel [2:33]: Cool. So, you know, you were telling me some stuff I re-read a little bit, but I kind of want to, you know, go in kind of organically. So why don't you let us know, obviously, well, by your accent, people could be from anywhere, but why don't you let us know what kind of where you are?

Marcus [2:47]: Yeah, I'm in Australia, which... I think everyone knows where that is.

Adeel [2:56]: Country and a continent.

Marcus [2:58]: Yeah, country and a continent. It's been interesting down here. I'm a stand-up comedian. I try not to be defined by that, but that's probably been my main income. vocation for the last 20 years. So yeah, that's been interesting taking that all over the world. I started out here in Australia and I'm pretty much a vagabond. I've lived in many countries and I've performed in 50 countries around the world. And Yeah, I'm self-employed and I just tour around. So when I'm not working, I'm traveling. But when I'm working, I'm traveling at the same time.

Adeel [3:41]: Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. That sounds like a great life.

Marcus [3:46]: It was up until March, and then the world stopped, and I'm not even allowed out of my own state. Yeah. Yeah, I've lost everything.

Adeel [3:59]: Yeah, some vocations are a lot worse than others. Yeah. Um, yeah, I mean, we could talk about the whole, um, yeah, that, that whole, uh, uh, lockdown kind of situation, how that affects me. So, but, um, but you're, yeah, you stand up comedian, uh, you know, something that comes up a lot. Um, and I take to heart is like comedy, like humor is one of the coping mechanisms that it's kind of one of the unsung heroes for a lot of people. So, um, why don't you, why don't you tell us about, um, well, I mean, what does that mean to you? What does comedy mean to you? Uh, you know, um, in relation to Misophonia. And then later, you know, we'll talk about your specific origin stories and all that stuff too. But yeah, I'd love to just kind of go right off the bat, like humor and Misophonia, like how do they relate for you?

Marcus [4:46]: Well, I think it's quite interesting because I only learned about Misophonia in the last two years. I didn't know that it was even a thing. uh i was i was gigging in uh in another part of australia and a friend of mine i was on in the car with she happens to have it and she we were just talking about annoying things and she said oh i think you might have this this thing and i said oh yeah what is it so she sent me a link and i started looking at all the symptoms and all the you know the reasons why and i said oh okay that's it's good to know now i now i can actually um it categorized my anger and my frustrations of the world. And ever since I found out, I just grabbed onto it and I actually, I'm taking it with pride. I've actually been going around telling people quite openly like, yeah, this is what I've got. So you can't blame me anymore for being angry. I've got a thing. And it's been fun for me to actually sort of be able to identify it as opposed to feel bad about it. It's like, all right, there's more. There's more people like me.

Adeel [5:56]: Yeah, oh, definitely there are. And do you incorporate it in your acts or is it just something that you, you know, as you're traveling that you're just kind of like grabbing people and telling them that you have dysphonia?

Marcus [6:06]: No, yeah. So ever since I found out, I started writing jokes about it. And it's like it's a whole new area that I can go into. And one of the good things is on stage, I'm a quite... interactive performer so i like to engage with the audience and uh you know a lot of comedians are straight straight stand-ups or they're storytellers i'm a storyteller but i also like to bounce off the audience too so in uh in my most recent uh one-man show i did it was a uh show where i talked about um different things that annoy people and and that came up and I opened it to the floor and I've just been getting so much response from audiences where they just, they come back and go, oh yeah, this happens and that happens. And it takes one or two people like to, you know, the first person to put their hand up and then everybody just wants to get in and go, yeah, I think I've got it too.

Adeel [7:02]: Wow. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Because we always wonder, like, there's got to be a bunch of people who just don't know yet. You know, we know there are people who just think that and, you know, they have an annoyance so they think they can relate. But that's interesting that you have this platform that you can really kind of like...

Marcus [7:20]: um make people feel comfortable and just kind of really thinking about whether they have it or not that's that's uh that's uh really interesting it's almost like in a humorous kind of environment too of course yeah and i think that's what we should do we should always try to embrace uh anything in life with humor if we can and i I think when I first heard I had it, I thought, wow, I must have really pissed off a lot of people over the years. They would have thought I just was short-tempered or had real weird anxiety for no reason or I had anger management problems. But all this time, I was getting triggered by visuals and audio things that were getting under my skin and I couldn't define it. I couldn't say why it was happening. And now I'm comfortable with talking about it. So, yeah, it's really fun to mention it on stage now because people can relate and people come up to me afterwards and they want to share their stories. And it's almost like we've started a little support group.

Adeel [8:21]: That's amazing. And this is all over the world too, right? Like you've been in the past couple of years, you've been, you've hit all over the world with kind of misophonia as part of the act as well.

Marcus [8:32]: Exactly, yeah. This time last year I was touring in Eastern Europe and doing shows there so I was talking about it with everybody locally there and You know, one of those funny things for me, my job and life has been traveling and staying in random accommodation. I'm staying at different people's homes. I'm staying, you know, I'm dealing with foreign languages and having to deal with all of that and talk about what I've got. It's interesting going into different people's homes and having to be aware of how they live. Yeah. There's a lot of control. Yeah. I think control is one of the big things as well. You have to know when you're about to put yourself in a situation that could be quite detrimental and just be ready for it.

Adeel [9:26]: Yeah. And how do you do that? Do you just kind of tell yourself in your head silently that, okay, the next 48 hours could be a complete shit show. So just be ready for it, but you'll be out of here. Or is it like, you know, you go in with headphones and you don't take them off.

Marcus [9:43]: I think it's a thing of preserving energy.

Adeel [9:48]: Yeah, that's a good point. You have a limited amount of energy.

Marcus [9:52]: Yeah, I'm about to go into a social situation where it's going to be overwhelming. I'm going to be mentally drained. so just just chill out before it and um go in there knowing that it's okay you you know you've got this there's going to be screaming children or there's going to be uh you know a lot of people at this festival or at this gig or whatever it is and uh just be ready for that but know that it'll it'll pass you know it's just a moment so um yeah but it's very hard to tell yourself that in the moment oh yeah so there's a there's a trigger that happens and you can't control your outbursts. That's the thing I'm trying to learn about now. And I'm learning more and more that I'm not in control in that split second. And I shouldn't feel bad about that. I'm interested to know, though, how I can get past that.

Adeel [10:48]: yeah yeah you're i mean it's something we hear a lot it's like once you're in it's almost like uh nothing you can do and then it's a matter of um well there's the whole fight or flight and almost everybody goes for flight yeah um well at least they admit that's what they have those people who admit it they they just go for flight and then it's just a matter of like uh when does that energy how long does it take for the energy to come back the good energy

Marcus [11:15]: Yeah, I try to leave if I know I'm getting anxious and I'm about to have a panic attack in a situation, I try and get up physically and move away from a certain person or an area and just walk it off, get some fresh air. That's not just to do with misophonia, that's just in general if you're feeling anxious i feel exercise is probably the best thing for it fresh air exercise get moving perspective that way yeah yeah if you if you're stuck in a confined space i find that's where it happens a lot i can handle noisy noisy people and noisy children if i'm in an area that's outdoors and i know i can move away from it or they will be moving. But if I'm in a room and then there's people banging at my door or outside the window or something, you can't move from that. So that's something you have to sort of learn to deal with, I guess.

Adeel [12:13]: Right. yeah it's interesting you've been around around the world the the small windows i've had of other parts of the world uh especially eastern europe like like you mentioned uh there is almost what i've heard is from people i've interviewed there's almost no there's definitely no talk about it and all very little awareness uh is this something that you've kind of experienced as well uh certain parts of the world are even less aware than um you know australia united states

Marcus [12:40]: I mean, it's so bizarre that I think there's that thing, like once you've heard of something, then it just keeps appearing all the time. I can't remember what that... that expression is. But yeah, like when I first heard of misophonia, then I, about three days later, there was an interview on the radio about it. Then I saw an article and then you, like, it just kept popping up. And I was like, wow, now all of a sudden this thing's everywhere. And maybe- It's like in the zeitgeist and it's just, yeah. Yeah. And I had no idea when it was named, when it was actually, do you know that? Do you know when it was- given a name?

Adeel [13:20]: Yeah, I know it was around the turn of the turn of the millennium. It was around around 20 years ago or so. I don't know off the top of my head that the exact the history of it, but it originally was called um well selective sound sensitivity syndrome was a more popular name for a while and then um but misophonia was always kind of like in the background and then i think people just realized it was easier to say so around like you know 10 years ago 15 years ago it switched to misophonia

Marcus [13:53]: Yeah, I think people just always thought I was cranky, just easily irritated. And that was funny when I was in Eastern Europe, though, on a public bus. I was going from, I think I was going from Hungary to Slovakia. And there was a guy behind me. And I have this real big issue with public transport, even though it's usually the thing I have to get wherever I'm going. For some reason, people who are on public transport The ones who have the least interesting conversations are the ones who have the longest battery life on their phones. You know, these people will get on a bus and they're also the same people who don't have headphones and they don't have spatial awareness or awareness of people around them. They come on and they, it could be an empty bus and they choose to sit right behind you And then they get on their phone and they have these long conversations and it's on the speakerphone or their keypad tone is on. Oh, the keypad tone, right.

Adeel [14:57]: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Marcus [14:58]: Yeah, they tick every single box of wanting to annoy you. And I was on this bus, yeah, and this guy was behind me and I couldn't... I didn't know how to tell him because he couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Slovakian. So luckily I had Wi-Fi on my phone and I Googled. This is one way I solved it. I got on Google Translate and I said to him in Google Translate, your music is very loud. And I had to show him. The first time I turned around, I did that universal look of, you know, please turn your music down. The glare, yeah. The glare, the frustration. And he wasn't catching on. And I was like, oh, no, he doesn't speak English. Okay, fair enough. So I did the translate and I showed him my screen. And luckily he caught on and he wasn't going to get angry at me. He just acknowledged it and he's like, oh, okay, yeah. okay i thought oh isn't that great i i was able to communicate with someone in another language just showing them my phones that was really cool so and and he did turn things down and uh he did but it was yeah it was still like yeah he was also right behind me and yeah oh well he's i'm i'm about to get punched in the head or you know you know

Adeel [16:16]: So how did that – so when he did – so he's right behind you. So obviously, you know, the triggers are still somewhat there. But did that slight improvement suddenly lower the stress level and aggravation for you enough?

Marcus [16:31]: It did a bit. But, you know, it's very hard when you're on a long bus journey between countries and you're a fish out of water. Like, you know, I'm – Nobody knows where I am. I'm in a country where I don't speak the language. I'm definitely the minority right here. So I was kind of brazen to stand up to this.

Adeel [16:51]: Yeah, I'm just curious because, you know, with fight or flight, oftentimes... Like when you try to convince yourself that your time box and the situation will be over soon. I was just curious if that slight improvement relaxed your brain to kind of not... be afraid of somebody, you know, something attacking you, which is kind of what the feeling sensation is with misophonia. Yeah.

Marcus [17:19]: So I think it I think it does. But I think you're already it's almost like it's pushed your buttons. So in that moment, your anxiety is already there and it just needs it just needs like one more bump to then crack open again. I feel like you need a bit of time to pass before it.

Adeel [17:39]: Oh, absolutely.

Marcus [17:40]: If anyone else comes along and says one more thing, you're triggered and you're ready to snap again.

Adeel [17:45]: Right.

Marcus [17:46]: That's a hard thing is trying to get... people to realize that the thing you need most in that moment is just space. That's for me personally. Anyway, I'm not sure if that's for everybody, but for me, if I've already had a little outburst of anger or I've snapped because I've been triggered by these noises, the last thing I want is someone coming up and consoling me or putting, oh, what's wrong? Talk about it.

Adeel [18:11]: Go away.

Marcus [18:11]: Yeah, I need the time.

Adeel [18:16]: Absolutely. You just need some personal space, personal time, that walk or whatever it is. Yeah.

Marcus [18:22]: And it's not just noise. I know that different people talk about visual triggers. They talk about...

Adeel [18:31]: you know not just the noises but visuals but also um i i find words can trigger me too which is very interesting um i've seen that show uh come up on like the facebook groups and whatnot and sometimes like okay yeah i mean yeah there's certain like i don't know grammatical or we you know weird like nuclear nuclear that you know that kind of stuff that seems to annoy some people but um But, you know, my bad. But sometimes I'm like, maybe that's just kind of like you're, you know, a stickler for English. But I'm seeing more and more. And maybe there is something about the sound relation to certain words that brings back some, I don't know.

Marcus [19:15]: miswiring of the brain uh that's that's what i'm i'm curious about too and and i'm going to say this next thing without being without hopefully offending anybody or because i'm not educated on on uh the effects or the causes and things like that but i'm very curious to think uh that maybe i'm on the spectrum somewhat you know like what what is it that what is it exactly that causes someone to have misophonia? And then you have the, the anxiety and you have things like certain words or the way people behave, all of those things, uh, create, create these little anxieties and, uh, you know, personality traits that I've had people tell me, I think, Oh, you might, you might be on the spectrum. And, um, you know, it's interesting to think that, yeah, this all could be related somehow. So I'm not sure.

Adeel [20:09]: It's something that, yeah, it's something that does come up and I've asked, you know, researchers that have come, I've only had a few researchers, but I've asked that question because that does come up a lot. The answer so far is that there hasn't been any definitive link between uh, you know, autism and, um, um, and misophonia, but it's just early days in research. And, uh, uh, I don't know if enough about it to say that, that there's possible that could be an overlap or something parallel or something related, but, uh, but yeah, you're not, I mean, you're not alone in thinking that, that, uh, they could be related.

Marcus [20:44]: Well, let's say, I mean, it's, it could be a very mild form of autism. They have similar, um, you know, similar behaviors regarding it, but, uh, you know, there's, there's words, um, Yeah, and I think maybe I was always a bit of a grammar Nazi as well when it came to people who spell your and you are. So I would get annoyed when people do that. But even when people say words, they abbreviate things that I don't like hearing. It's my own frustration. And visually... I have really bad hay fever. I've always had it as a child, these allergies. So now it's springtime in Australia. So this is the worst time for me to exist. And I get triggered if I see a lawnmower. That's the kind of... Oh, yeah.

Adeel [21:37]: Leaf blowers too are not great. No, I know.

Marcus [21:41]: I came up with a joke a while ago. uh, about leaf blowers, I think we should, uh, we should have the, the, the movie, the Terminator, but we call it, you know, the misophoniator. Uh, it's just, it's a cyborg that goes back in time to kill the inventor of the leaf blower. And, uh, yeah. Yeah, the catchphrase is, I'll be quiet. Anyway.

Adeel [22:05]: We should put these on shirts. Definitely, I'll be quiet.

Marcus [22:08]: I know. That was what I, when I first heard of misophonia, I thought, yeah, there's a whole new market for comedy here. There's not a lot of comedians that do shtick on misophonia. There's a lot of bumper stickers you could do here.

Adeel [22:24]: Yeah. Well, Ricky Gervais is, about sound issues quite a bit. He doesn't say misophonia by name, but if you Google Ricky Gervais misophonia, you'll see a lot of people telling him, like on Twitter, constantly telling you have misophonia. And he mentions it on late night shows. He mentions his annoyances with sound. It's come up on some of his shows. So, yeah, that may be interesting.

Marcus [22:51]: Yeah, I'll definitely.

Adeel [22:53]: Because, I mean, he's very much like our kind of, I'm sure he gets annoyed out of, you know, just like we do about a lot of these things.

Marcus [23:02]: Oh, yeah. And we share very similar personality, like all comedians.

Adeel [23:07]: Oh, yeah.

Marcus [23:08]: all comedians tend to be very, uh, observant. We're very quiet people in the sense that, uh, people think that we're all extroverts, but we're not, we, we tend to be introverts. We, we, we prefer to observe and listen. And we're very, our senses are very heightened. We can, we can hear a lot of things going on and see a lot of things going on. So I think that's one of the causes that you're triggered so much by, uh, things you hear. And, uh, And you get annoyed by things. That's one of the things of a comedian is you're not funny unless you're angry. That's like one of those common things of a comedian. So, yeah, I found I did find that with being able to write comedy about it. I talk about restaurants, how I, you know, I talk about having misophonia where I can't go to restaurants because of, you know, not just the noise, but the bill. uh yeah right but but in a in a restaurant uh hearing people eat and hearing the noise it's it's being in a confined space that really gets to me so i've chosen now to to if i you know if i was going on a date i would have to go to a picnic or choose to go outdoor patio or yeah yeah

Adeel [24:21]: Yeah.

Marcus [24:21]: So it's and, you know, all jokes aside, it has actually been a problem with dating because people want to go out to a restaurant like that's the thing. And you go, well, that's just I can't do that.

Adeel [24:35]: Candlelight dinner or something. I mean, that seems like a disaster.

Marcus [24:38]: Yeah.

Adeel [24:39]: And put fire in front of us. That's fire and misophonia. That could be quite a dangerous situation.

Marcus [24:48]: I like sitting around a fireplace because there's that nice noise.

Adeel [24:51]: The crackle, yeah.

Marcus [24:53]: Yeah. And I like to have noise when I'm eating so that if I'm eating with somebody, I don't have to listen to them eat. Yep. But even going to cafes and restaurants, I have to sit in that seat that is facing everyone. Okay. I have to be in the – like if there's a booth and one's against the wall and there's a seat facing inwards against the wall, I have to be on the seat that faces out.

Adeel [25:23]: Outside. Is that so you know where the sound's coming from or –

Marcus [25:29]: I'm curious to know whether this is partly because of my job as a comedian.

Adeel [25:35]: Oh, to observe people.

Marcus [25:37]: I have to be aware. Yeah, I need to observe things. And I've heard this from other people too. Not just comedians, but other people who feel like they need to sit to face out. It's that fear of... uh being attacked from behind or something it's that weird kind of thing like you've got you you lose control if you're facing inwards and you don't know who's behind you or what's going on behind you ah interesting yeah so i i wonder if that's somehow associated or whether it is just one of those those weird traits i have where you just you you know it's a a lack of control And you feel like you need to be in that space where you can see everything going on.

Adeel [26:20]: No, that makes total sense. I would have thought that initially, I mean, my instinct would be to face the wall, put my noise-canceling headphones on because then I don't get visually triggered and I'm not going to get audio triggered. uh that that sense of control uh and that sense of um not being you know jumped from behind by physically or sonically uh that makes that makes sense but yeah i wouldn't i wouldn't thought of that but that that's that makes sense

Marcus [26:50]: I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm not going through my life constantly worried that someone's going to jump me.

Adeel [26:55]: But you made a few enemies along the way.

Marcus [26:59]: Oh, definitely. Yeah. And I think that is another true thing you mentioned there. As a comedian, I've learned to be very sharp-witted. And I guess that's a natural ability as well, which is why I've become good at comedy. But When I'm on stage, I'm so used to dealing with hecklers and people who want to shout out things that I can shoot somebody down really quickly. And sometimes that comes out the wrong way because you take it off stage and you're in real life and you say something harsh back and you're like, oh, I'm sorry, that's just a natural reflex from my job.

Adeel [27:39]: Oh, let's talk about the, yeah, heckling and misophonia. So is that, I mean, does heckling bother you just as purely on a comedic level, as a comedian on stage? Or is there a kind of a miso component? And does any of that rage kind of, you know, hit you on stage in that situation?

Marcus [27:56]: It does, actually. I've had... I've found that so I started comedy 20 years ago and this was before mobile phones were a common thing right so I've lived through the time where comedy was quite good in clubs where there was no distractions people would buy a ticket they'd come and sit down and uh concentration span people could sit there and actually enjoy a piece of theater for an hour you have a cigarette those things yeah there was yeah and there was there was no no one looking at their screens during a show and i i went through the period where people started having phones and then started uh looking at their phones throughout shows and uh you know we've it is one of the most frustrating things for a live performer to be on stage and have people have their phone go off or people take phone calls and people texting people just so I think as a performer that's really annoyed me as someone with misophonia it's annoyed me even more it's that thing of hey guys can't you just can't you just like pay attention for a little while and I get Yeah, it's a very hard thing as a comedian. You have to be liked on stage. Your job is to be likable. Whether you're portraying an angry character or whether your persona is, you know, like there's comedians who have that kind of, oh, I'm a dark, dark comedian and I do edgy material. They're still likable. You know, we like who they are.

Adeel [29:32]: Yeah, you want to be sympathized with, if that's the right way of saying it.

Marcus [29:37]: Exactly, yeah. So that's a hard thing because when I get angry on stage, the whole time I have to remember I can't flip the switch. People have to actually still like me. So, you know, it can change.

Adeel [29:51]: Right, you can't get uncomfortable. You can't get too uncomfortable, right.

Marcus [29:55]: Yeah, you can be a really dirty comedian or you can say some horrible things on stage. But as long as people know that you're joking and they find it funny, but if... The moment you turn on an audience member. So I've had this time where I was in a club. There was maybe 400 audience members or something. And the majority of the crowd, they could not see the couple in the front row. And there was this couple in the front. It was a little table. And they were just constantly talking to each other. to the point where I just kept looking down at a corner of my eye. I was trying to entertain the other 98% of the people. And I just kept seeing them talking. And it wasn't loud enough for anyone else to really get bothered by. But there's a thing in a comedy club. As soon as two people talk, it snowballs. The people around them get annoyed. Oh, yeah. And more and more people think, oh, it's okay to keep talking. So I just looked at them like halfway through my show and I – I couldn't hold it in any longer. And I just looked down at them. I said, would you two shut up? And it just came out. And the whole audience looked at me as if like, wow, he just lost it at two people who didn't even say a thing. And then I realized I'd lost them in that moment. I was like, oh, no. Yeah, that happens.

Adeel [31:22]: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Man, that happens. And you just got to accept it. You got to accept it. Yeah, you got to do it. And just move on. And then kind of be proud of it. Like, you know, you did something. I mean, you did something. The other option would have been bottling it up.

Marcus [31:42]: you know probably blowing some brain cells that way exactly yeah I mean that's that's the problem with with being a performer as you you've got to hold it in or you've got to deal with it in a really funny way but once you've been triggered it's difficult I mean there was a guy there was a guy last year and this is a problem a lot of audiences they don't they don't see that you can see everything as a comedian you you're fully aware of what's going on like if there's one person not enjoying the show you focus your energy on that one person. You can tell everything that's happening. So there was a guy halfway back into a show last year, and he was trying to look at his phone under, like hiding it, hiding it on his lap. And he thought that the person in front of him was blocking his view.

Adeel [32:32]: I think he might have been taking pictures, but we'll think too much.

Marcus [32:38]: No, he was checking his emails because I actually called him out. I saw him like face down into his phone. And the problem is people's phones, they light up. So, you know, if you're in a dark room, your face is lit up. And so I just sort of stopped the show at one point. I just said, what are you doing there, buddy? And he said, oh, I'm just checking my emails. And I said, oh, okay. Well, you know, do you mind if we... If we just get on with the show and he said, oh, yeah, it's my work. I said, oh, yeah, well, yeah, you're at my work right now.

Adeel [33:09]: Oh, yeah, yeah, there you go.

Marcus [33:12]: Yeah, and it caused a bit of tension, but I was able to make a bit of fun of it. And that's what you need to do in those situations.

Adeel [33:19]: Dude, if I was there, I'd be at the front clapping and hooting and hollering.

Marcus [33:25]: Yeah, well, that's the problem. I have a job where you want people to come and like you and make noise, but you also have those personal anxieties about noise. So it's a difficult career to have chosen to have these things happen, that's for sure.

Adeel [33:43]: Well, so you, yeah, we've gone like more than halfway and, uh, and, uh, you know, I haven't even gone back to like where this started with you. Like, usually that's kind of one of the first things I ask has been such as we just, no, no, this has been great. We've been just kind of like rolling with this fascinating, you know, look at, you know, um, you know, your work and everything you've been doing. Um, but yeah, now let's, yeah, let's talk about like, when did this, when this all start for you? When, when'd you notice that you had this up?

Marcus [34:11]: I.

Adeel [34:12]: I honestly can't answer that in a... Like, there's not one thing that... Yeah, there's usually not, like, a moment, but do you remember, like, around, like, each period, kind of the first few people who were triggering you?

Marcus [34:27]: Look, I went through a lot of... and probably a dose of depression in my late teens. So there was, you know, that's the standard thing you need to do to become a comedian.

Adeel [34:39]: Yeah, I was going to say that's a classic comedian cliche almost.

Marcus [34:43]: Yeah, you've got to tick that box to become a comic. So I... I had a few anxiety things happening in my teenage years, but nothing I could really pinpoint to noise. I grew up in a house of four children. So we had a busy household. And I like to self-diagnose sometimes. And I often think back at some of my anxieties that maybe I was in such a busy house all the time. I never had my own space. I never had my own um you know my own room until i was a late teenager so it was like all right i need i need to be i need to be away from people i i like to have my own my own thoughts and um i've never been in a position where i had my own place so i was even after that i started traveling for work and i was always staying in backpacker hostels and staying uh at friends houses and share houses and stuff so I think as a child, maybe it just stemmed from never having my own space and it was always noisy. But there's nothing I could really think of that pushed the buttons so much.

Adeel [35:59]: Got it. And so when you started to get out there and after high school, whenever you started to travel more, is that when things start to flourish? Do you know when things start to snowball for you?

Marcus [36:11]: I think probably I was living in London and probably just hearing a lot of Uh, yeah. Getting triggered by, um, certain noises in restaurants and things like that. Now, I honestly thought I had an issue with, um, with money or, you know, like I thought, oh, I can't, I can't go out to restaurants cause I don't want to, I don't want to spend all the restaurant, but it was actually, I really, it was really just the idea of, um, you know, being in those confined spaces and, and going to cinemas and stuff like that. Like, yeah. If I'm in a movie theater and there's people behind me, you know, crunching ice from a drink or with a plastic packet of chips, that's when I realize I have an issue because Most people can turn around and just sort of give that nasty glare. But you know very well, people with misophonia, we turn around and we want to murder that person. That's the level of... And it's hard to say that to people because they think, oh, you're actually going to murder someone. I know the difference between good and evil. I'm not going to murder someone, but we want to murder.

Adeel [37:24]: Yeah.

Marcus [37:26]: Exactly. Sorry, you don't have to be on record by saying that, by the way. I don't want to drag you into my crime spree here.

Adeel [37:35]: No, that's okay. My lawyer is going to give the okay before I publish this.

Marcus [37:43]: Yeah, look, I think I scare people when I say that sometimes because I think people who don't have misophonia, they don't realize how severe the frustration is for us. They don't realize. They go, oh, it's just a noise. I'm just clicking my pen or clipping my fingernails or something. I say, yeah, but that's...

Adeel [38:03]: that's that's you know that's worthy of murder for sure yeah yeah well either they uh or they just think you're being the comedian and uh being hyperbolic uh yeah and they don't realize that well you know what it's uh yeah it's yeah not quite murder but there's uh there's a it's in that direction

Marcus [38:24]: That's the problem. As a comedian, people go, oh, but you're a comedian. Everything's funny. You should be happy all the time.

Adeel [38:30]: Oh, well, yeah. I think anyone who remotely knows about comedy knows that that's not the case. We're not Sesame Street here or anything.

Marcus [38:40]: But I do wonder about people with, and maybe I've actually spent far too long on public transport than other people traveling between gigs. But there's a high proportion of people who clip their fingernails and I've even seen toenails on public transport.

Adeel [38:57]: I was going to say that earlier when you talked about that guy, but it's funny that you brought that up again. Have you had people shaving, like electric shaving?

Marcus [39:07]: I've seen that, yeah. I think how fast is your facial hair growing or how fast are your fingernails growing that you think you need to do it on your journey? Are you just time efficient? Are you just saving a lot of time? What's the reason for that? It can't that wait. And the cinemas as well, people talking, people... People chewing. I'm always just baffled at people's lack of awareness of other people around them. That's what I'm really confused by is people can't understand that other people are around. And one of the biggest thing is people kissing on public transport. Oh, right.

Adeel [39:48]: Yeah.

Marcus [39:50]: you know like i i get it if you're out in a park on a bench that's fine i can walk past you but if if you're in a carriage and there's no literally nowhere to go i don't want someone making out yeah so but then again you know if i'm the one doing it i'll i'll ignore everybody around me so

Adeel [40:09]: gotcha right yeah yeah um yeah it's funny how and so and that goes back to kind of like what you're saying before about how you you have to be eating um around other people eating right you can't just sit there watching i mean i can i can eat i can eat on my own i'm i'm never oh yeah by my own noises for sure uh but if somebody's eating an apple um like i will try and you know

Marcus [40:35]: eat an apple with them, you know, like, or I just have to get away from them.

Adeel [40:39]: Right. Right. If you can't get away, there is that mimicking is kind of known as a coping mechanism. Yeah. And that sounds like it's kind of what that. So, yeah, well, I guess other than, you know, leaving a situation and maybe doing this kind of mimicking, let's get into maybe some of your other, I don't know, coping mechanisms that you have. Obviously, humor. for you, a huge one. And any tools you use, like, you know, even like headphones or any other, like, little techniques that you tell yourself or use?

Marcus [41:11]: I think the, yeah, telling myself that it will pass. We don't have to get into your gun collection, but... No, no, no, we're not allowed guns down here, so that's fine. We're a bit safer than the US there, so I'm happy with that. I... I do cope with, I'm really trying to learn meditation now. I'm dealing with things like, yeah, exercise, going out and getting some fresh air, you know, patting my dog, like those, just having the comfort of those sort of things. But fresh, I think fresh air is one thing, like really any anxiety, any panic attacks, just getting out and get moving. Try not to stay in one place. That's something. I find A humorous way to deal with people on public transport and instead of getting angry at them is when I'm on a plane, I try and take as many of those little free headphones that come out. They give out the headphones. So then I actually keep, and I've generally done this, I keep a few of them with me whenever I'm traveling anywhere. So if I'm on the bus or plane and someone's being noisy, I don't get angry. I turn around and offer them a free set of headphones. oh the best way to deal with someone who you're angry at is to give them something for free because they it really messes with their head you know you get to you get to be one up on them and go yeah i hate you right now but uh look you get a free gift i like messing with people's heads like that and just kind of like surprising them yeah yeah yeah kill them with kindness i think yeah yeah yeah yeah that's interesting It's not a bad way to deal with it. But I guess in general, I try to wear headphones on public transport if I can. But that's unfortunately, you know, I like to be in control as well. And being in control means you need to be aware of everything around you. So I can't wear noise-canceling headphones because I need to know what's happening outside of my head at the same time. So that's a very frustrating thing.

Adeel [43:21]: Yeah. And so are you, you know, jumping back into comedy. So are you always kind of, you always have a notepad and you're always writing. So it's kind of anything you're seeing, if you have an idea, you're writing. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and, and as you've, you know, you've, you've known about, you've known about Mr. Funny for the past couple of years. Do you like a separate list? Maybe do you like kind of group your, group your jokes together? It's like, okay. there's some misophonia action going on i'm going to spend the next half hour and in my misophonia book like um yeah how do you um or is that maybe um i should ask this question like is it is it uh painful to to um uh do you have to like kind of like i would imagine you have to start to think about misophonia and think about the sounds does that kind of bother you too as you're writing the joke like how do you um deal with that or do you write the joke after when you're have you know have a drink or something in your

Marcus [44:18]: I think if, yeah, I mean, if something happens to me, then I get triggered by it. But my brain is switched on so I can, I'll find the funny thing in any situation. And I'm not going out looking for humor all the time, but it comes to you. So, yeah, like the people clipping their fingernails on a bus, I go, you know, my brain is instantly annoyed. but my brain is instantly thinking, wow, how fast, how fast are your fingernails growing? Like, are you, are you going to win the Guinness world record if you, if you don't clip them, they're just going to keep growing all day. Did a doctor tell you that, that, you know, you, that you need to keep clipping at a, at a rate of every hour, just so you don't hurt other people. So I'm always right. I'm always writing, um, the jokes, um, you know, about these things as it happens, but, um, I've got files on my computer that, uh, that I have like for misophonia, I have, you know, I have different things that I, I write about. I, on my, now that I'm on, you know, if I'm on social media, I hashtag misophonia when I do a joke so I can track the, track those jokes down again. And I, yeah, I'm trying to build up a collection of them and, It's nice to be able to do it because it normalizes what it is for people as well. There's a lot of people who realize we don't have a voice out there.

Adeel [45:40]: Yes. Well, people like you who are literally out there. I mean, I got this little thing. I interview people once a week, but you're doing shows constantly. you know once the world opens up again yeah i mean it's i mean you're everywhere talk talking about it's a fascinating platform so yeah let's maybe uh start to talk about that a little bit as we kind of veer to your towards home here um you know i think you i think you mentioned one of your emails that you're um trying to use your platform to create a community for misophonia in some way so yeah let's let's hear about that

Marcus [46:13]: Yeah, I'm very passionate about exploring and talking about mental health awareness as it is becoming a huge thing in the world. It's being very, very talked about now. Like when I was 20 and I was going through my own depression and anger management problems and things like that, it was very not talked about in small towns. And now I'm trying to, you know, make it fun, make it normal for people to even say, yeah, I've had issues and everyone has it, you know, everyone's been affected by it. So I'm building a bit of a community online and I've started up a thing, which is all very like quite literally brand new. So there's not much happening online at the moment but I've started I wonder in the US do you have an expression called calm calm the farm have you heard that expression I don't not I don't think I've heard that exact term why don't you tell us about it it's like when people tell you to calm down or they say you know cool it just chill it they say calm calm calm your farm you know okay Yeah. So I don't know. It's just a, maybe it's an Australian thing. I don't know. But, uh, I, I just thought I, uh, took that, um, took that expression and then I just turned it around to farm the calm. So, you know, we should, we should try and farm our calm. And, uh, so I've got that as a, as a, um, a handle for all the social media, the farm, the calm. And, um, yeah, what I'd like to do one day is actually, um, have a retreat, have a place where people can go and stay on a farm. They can learn to come and relax. It's a good place for mental health. It's a getaway. They can do their meditation workshops and escape the city, escape the hustle and bustle. And in the meantime, I would like to build a bit of an online community where people can actually just start sharing their stories and their tips on how to deal with it, with anxiety, with stress. How to focus on mindfulness and mental health awareness. And use it with humor. There's a lot of people who talk about serious mental health issues and serious anxieties and stuff like that. And it's all very informative. It's all very... medical perhaps, but there's not a lot of people who just think, you know what, we can actually make fun of this as well. We don't have to hide it. We don't have to be upset or feel ashamed of these things. Just embrace it and have fun with it and go, yeah, man, I get pissed off when people make noise. That's fine. I'm allowed to do that.

Adeel [49:01]: Yeah, man, I think that's why it's great to have this kind of a comedian perspective because we're, you know, comedians are great at self-deprecation and using that for, you know, to make them feel better. And even though not everyone gets that, but yeah, that's the voice that you're right. It's not, it's misophonia tends to be, it feels like you're talking to a lot of people who either are, you know, medical professionals or they just are in the middle of a trigger. So it's just a bunch of screaming. And so but there isn't this like this kind of this type of processing that you're talking about where it's like being self-aware, kind of making fun of it and using the humor for good. So that's yeah, I would love to. Yeah, I'd love to see more of this. I wish Ricky Gervais also was kind of a little bit more vocal. Oh, Sarah Silverman, too. Sarah Silverman is actually very vocal about her misophonia. She uses it by name and talks about it on podcasts.

Marcus [50:00]: Oh, right.

Adeel [50:01]: Well, that's good. You've got a Twitter or something.

Marcus [50:05]: I will. And that's funny about being vocal about it. It was an easy joke I thought of the other week. I think I wrote a meme or whatever. or a tweet, I just said, I have misophonia. I like to keep, I like, not many, sorry, I think it was, not many people know I have misophonia. I try to keep quiet about it. You know, it's just. That's good.

Adeel [50:26]: Yeah.

Marcus [50:26]: Yeah, it's just a little gag. But, you know, even things like that is nice to, you know, keep it funny, keep it light. And I think maybe we can change the world for better. If we can raise awareness that those things are annoying, we could probably rid the world of plastic. Imagine getting rid of plastic grocery bags completely because people, you know, when you go traveling and staying in a hostel or a shared accommodation and someone wakes you up in the morning because they're rustling through a plastic bag, I just want to give out like a tote bag, like one of those non-plastic bags to somebody and say, here, have this in the future. Or at a cinema, put your packet of crisps into a bucket so it doesn't make noise. Right. Yeah, we can change the world for better.

Adeel [51:18]: That just got me thinking, especially talking about lawnmowers and leaf floors, that maybe we can use a climate change angle where we can reduce climate change by getting rid of lawnmowers and leaf floors. It would be good. We should be part of the Paris Accord. I think Misophonia should have its own channel there.

Marcus [51:40]: I think we should. I don't know how we'd go about protesting it, though, because we wouldn't be able to pick it. What do we want?

Adeel [51:48]: Yeah, exactly. Anyways, well yeah, this has been great. Maybe we should start to wind down, but you're all over social media and on the web, and probably you have clips on YouTube, I would imagine, of your acts?

Marcus [52:05]: I do, yeah. So the Farm the Calm thing, that's new, but if anyone wants to actually give that a look on Facebook and Twitter, I've taken all the social media for that. i hope my accent comes across all right farm to calm yeah yeah no i arm the calm yeah and uh and my name uh but my main uh my main social media is it's marcus ryan its marcus with a c and uh ryan so um yeah i'm i'm pretty um you know regular on twitter and uh facebook page and uh trying to do TikTok, but I don't want to do that. I'd rather go back to my true passion, and that's being on stage. But I have a YouTube as well. So, yeah, I have a website. It's And, yeah, hopefully, you know, I can get back to performing around the world live and do more shows. But in the meantime, it's all on my Facebook and Twitter and, yeah, YouTube. I'm doing regular videos as well.

Adeel [53:08]: Oh, amazing. We will. Yeah, I'll definitely have links to all of that podcast thing to say, but I'll have links to all that in the show notes. No, I appreciate that. And also on our social media, too, not just in the show notes hidden where nobody clicks. And and just side note, have you you've come to the US, right? Have you come through? How close have you come to like Minnesota?

Marcus [53:32]: I think I connected through Minnesota last year. I was flying from Florida. I was doing a festival down in Florida performing, and I had to go up to Canada, to Winnipeg. So I think we connected.

Adeel [53:48]: Oh, of course, through Delta.

Marcus [53:50]: Yeah, so I had about an hour at the airport. So, you know, it's a great, great part of Minnesota, the airport.

Adeel [53:57]: Yeah, right, right, right, right.

Marcus [54:00]: But I'm never shy of a challenge or an invitation. So, yeah, as I said, I've performed in 50 countries around the world. I took my shows all through Latin America. I started up comedy in places that never had it. So, yeah, if there's ever a venue and someone willing to have me on, I'm open to come and do a show, especially within the Misophonia community as well.

Adeel [54:27]: Absolutely.

Marcus [54:28]: If I can build that following or an audience with that, I would love to come and do shows.

Adeel [54:32]: Absolutely. Yeah, I'm trying to build up a community here, so maybe we'll get you, and I know some venues, maybe we'll get you over here. But maybe one last question, and maybe I'll have more, but what were some of the places in the world that surprised you in having a Misophonia community? like were there some places where you're like holy there are all these people know about misophonia and we're talking about it is there anything that kind of surprised you

Marcus [54:57]: no i i guess uh i guess it everywhere has it i mean that's hard yeah you know maybe that's not the right answer for you but um everywhere i've been in the last couple of years i've i have talked about it and um everyone is like yeah yeah that's that's what i get oh that's what i've had and yeah it's surprising you know um how many people didn't realize they had it or they didn't know what it was and some people think it's just you you're just easily irritated but yeah When you know you've got it, you've definitely got it for sure.

Adeel [55:29]: Absolutely.

Marcus [55:30]: I just wish we could get a little sticker or something we could wear on our shirt that says, don't get upset with me. You're the issue. It's not me, it's you. Right.

Adeel [55:42]: Well, great, Marcus. This has been even more fun than I thought it would be. And I already had high expectations. So this has been great, man. I'd love to see you come through town or if you're nearby, I'll try to make it. Yeah. But good luck to you. And yeah, post-COVID and hopefully you're able to travel again. Yeah, post-COVID. Thanks for coming on. Thanks for spreading the word around the world. This is an amazing platform and voice that you're using.

Marcus [56:19]: Hopefully, we can work together in the future. I would like to do not just comedy, but move into doing some public speaking about this kind of thing as well and doing some motivational videos. you know, there's a future for it to make people more aware of those things, for sure. So, yeah, thank you for taking the time to have me on. I appreciate it.

Adeel [56:41]: Thank you, Marcus. That was a great conversation. Really had a fun time there. Hope to see you passing through the United States sometime in the future. Hope we all get a chance to go. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Music, as always, is by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.